Why is Russia losing so many tanks and armored vehicles?

What remains of a Russian convoy that got ambushed by Ukrainian forces in Bucha.

Ukraine on Monday morning claimed that Russian material and troop losses continue to soar.

At least 19,500 Russian soldiers have so far been killed in the war that started on Feb. 24 with the Russian attack on Ukraine, said the Ukrainian General Staff in a statement on Facebook.

NATO estimates that up to 40,000 Russian troops have been killed, injured, captured or gone missing during the first month of the Kremlin’s war, an alliance official confirmed to NBC News.

Of the confirmed deaths in the military, more than 15% come from Russia’s elite airborne, or VDV, units. The high number of losses among those units has also been accompanied by reports of desertions.

Ukrainian forces have destroyed 154 Russian aircraft, 137 helicopters, 119 unmanned aerial vehicles, 725 tanks, 1,923 armored vehicles, and 347 artillery systems, the statement added.

The top of the tank is its least protected part, and that is the area modern missiles target

In simple math, each T-72 tank is operated by three persons (commander, gunner, driver), and 725 tanks are destroyed, meaning 2,175 soldiers are dead. If we account for all other casualties, its highly plausible that NATO estimates up to 40,000 troops are killed, injured or gone missing are correct.

Furthermore, the Russian forces also lost 111 multiple rocket launcher systems, 1,387 various motor vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 55 anti-aircraft systems, and four short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) systems, according to the statement.

Anti-tank Weapons

The US and allies supplied Ukraine with 20,000 anti-tank missiles such as Javelin, NLAW and M72 at the start of the conflict and have since sent at least 2,000 more.

Javelins can be fired so that the missile explodes on the top of a tank, where the armour is weakest, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Courtesy BBC

“Javelin and NLAW are very potent,” says Nick Reynolds, research analyst in land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). “Without this lethal aid, the situation in Ukraine would be very different.”

The US is supplying Ukraine with Switchblade anti-tank drones.

Known as “kamikaze” drones, they can hover over a target miles away from the operator and then drop on top of a tank, destroying it with the warhead at their tip.

Russia’s soldiers are inept

According to Oryx’s figures, half of the tanks Russia has lost have not been destroyed or damaged by the enemy but have been captured or abandoned.

Experts put this down to logistical failures and incompetence by Russian troops.

“You’ve seen pictures of Russian tanks being dragged off by Ukrainian farmers’ tractors,” says Prof O’Brien.

“Some of those tanks were abandoned because they ran out of fuel. That’s a logistical failure. Some got stuck in the springtime mud because the high command invaded at the wrong time of year.”

“Russia’s ground forces are made up of a lot of conscripts and recruits. That makes them, in world terms, a low to a medium-quality fighting force,” says RUSI’s Nick Reynolds.

“Many tanks have been abandoned because of bad driving. Some have been driven off bridges. Others have been driven into ditches so that the tracks have come off. The ability of the troops to use their equipment has been lacking.

“But often, soldiers have simply abandoned their vehicles and fled. So the will to fight has also been lacking.”

Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on February 24, has been met with international outrage, with the European Union, US, and the UK, among others, implementing stringent economic penalties on Moscow.

At least 1,793 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,439 injured, according to estimates by the UN, which noted that the true figure is likely far higher.

More than 4.5 million Ukrainians have also fled to several European countries, with millions more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency.

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